Over the coming days, we’ll highlight a few notable Chargers with their 2014 Media Guide profile. Up next is defensive lineman Corey Liuget.
The Chargers’ first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the soft-spoken Liuget has emerged as the team’s top play-maker on the defensive line. Liuget was San Diego’s 2012 Defensive Player of the Year and had another solid season in 2013, leading the team in sacks, tackles for loss, quarterback pressures and quarterback hits. He played some of his best football down the stretch in helping the Chargers reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009. He collected six of his team-leading 10 tackles for loss in the last six games. In the Chargers’ Wild Card Playoff win in Cincinnati, he led the line in tackles, while also contributing a sack, a tackle for loss, a pass defensed and a quarterback hit.
Liuget’s rise on the field is all the more impressive when looking back at the obstacles he faced early in his career. After being drafted in 2011, the NFL Lockout wiped out what would have been Liuget’s first offseason with the team. Instead of working out with teammates and studying with coaches, he was forced to go it alone. After the lockout ended and the season rolled around, injuries took a toll on the Chargers’ defensive line and Liuget was pressed into immediate duty. He played in 15 games and made 13 starts, but by season’s end, his weight had ballooned to more than 325 pounds, due in large part to an extended visit from his mom, Lorene, and her home cooking. Rather than continuing to pack on pounds, Liuget made a decision to travel back to Florida where he could train at his alma mater, Miami’s Hialeah High School. The move paid dividends as Liuget lowered his weight to 300 pounds and it set the wheels in motion for a breakthrough 2012 season in which he led San Diego’s defensive line in sacks, tackles, tackles for loss and passes defensed.
Work ethic is one trait that was drilled into Liuget at an early age. His father, DeJa, was killed while visiting Corey’s grandmother in Haiti in 1993. It left Lorene to raise Corey and his four older brothers and sisters as a single parent in Miami’s housing projects. When her kids were young, Lorene enlisted their help to make ends meet. She would boil peanuts, and make candy apples, conch fritters and sweet potato pies, which Corey and his brothers and sisters would sell. It worked as it taught all of the Liuget kids about work ethic and discipline.
Liuget went on to have a standout career at Hialeah High. Despite hailing from a close-knit family that tops 100 in number and a strong recruiting push from the big in-state schools, he opted to chart his own path and enroll at the University of Illinois. After a couple of years in Champaign, Ill., Liuget grew homesick and contemplated returning home after his sophomore season. Some tough love from his mom persuaded him to stick it out and instead of moping over the situation, Liuget used it as motivation. He lost 25 pounds between his sophomore and junior seasons, and feeling re-invigorated, had a career year for the Fighting Illini in 2010. Liuget chose to leave school a year early and apply for the 2011 NFL Draft. The Chargers loved the toughness, tenacity and relentless approach to the game that he showed and made him their first-ever first-round pick from Illinois.
Liuget appreciates living in San Diego, a city with a strong military history, as his two older sisters, Ideidre and Latronika, both serve our country in the Army.
Liuget enjoys traveling. In 2013, he took a vacation to the Dominican Republic where he learned learned to surf and scuba dive. And this year, he and his girlfriend, Faven, visited Ethiopia, Dubai, Costa Rica and The Bahamas.